Friday, April 9, 2010

King Solomon and The Power of Cheesecake

King Solomon once asked an advisor, who the king felt was getting too big for his britches, to find a ring that would make a happy man sad and a sad man happy.The advisor went to all the great jewelers of the land, but none had heard of such a ring. The advisor went to all the great magicians of the land, but none had heard of such a ring. Despairing in disappointing his king, the advisor wandered home through the darkening streets, passing through the place where the scholars lived. 

A learned rabbi, seeing the advisor's broken countenance, asked him what troubled him. Hearing the advisor's tale, the rabbi exclaimed, "Ah, but I have such a ring!"

The next day the advisor entered the royal court. King Solomon asked him, "So, my friend, did you find the ring?" Without a word, the advisor handed his lord a simple gold ring. Incredulous, King Solomon took the ring in his hand, and read the inscription. His face fell. 

The ring read, "This, too, shall pass."

I made a cheesecake. I helped N to help me, while standing on her Learning Tower. I got the ensuing mess in the kitchen consolidated, if not cleaned up. I continued to parent N and cook, all while doing laundry, cleaning out a closet, organizing shoes and nursing D in the Ergo as I went. I am mama; here me roar.

Of course, today I am flattened. But, I did it. Yesterday's work load was typical Day in the Life stuff as far as this SAHM gig goes. I'm not quite up to snuff yet. But, the deep seated voice that said, "This illness is never going to end," has been replaced with spring sunshine and the knowledge that I am getting better day by day. 

This too shall pass. 

Not only did I make a cheesecake, I made a good cheesecake in honor of A's new floors and being back on my feet again. Cooking for people I love makes me feel strong and useful. It gives me pride and makes me happy. I am not 100%, but I'll take it. There is always tomorrow. The Power of Cheesecake is not to be underestimated.

Note the nary a center crack status.
Leah's New York Style Cheesecake
Adapted from "America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book"

8 graham crackers, broken into 1 inch pieces
6 T butter, melted and cooled
3 T sugar

2 1/2 lbs cream cheese, softened and cut into chunks
2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
juice of 1 small lemon, about 3 tsp
2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup sour cream
5 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 T butter, melted and cooled, for greasing sides of the pan

1. Preheat oven to 325. Take cream cheese, sour cream and eggs out of the refrigerator. Melt 8 T butter. Set 2 T aside.

2. CRUST: Pulse graham cracker in food processor until crumbs, about 30 seconds. Distribute over the crumbs the 6 T melted butter and 3 T sugar. Pulse to combine. Press the mixture evenly into the ungreased spring form pan. Place in oven, and cook until lightly browned and fragrant, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from over and allow to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Turn the oven up to 500 degrees (yes, you read that right :).

3. FILLING: Place softened cream cheese chunks in a large bowl. Blend on medium low speed with an electric mixture until smooth, taking the time to scrape down the sides and scrape off the beaters. Once smooth and evenly blended, add salt and half the sugar. Blend 1-3 minutes. Add the remained of the sugar. Blend 1-3 minutes. Each time, take the time to scrape and get all of the mixture to an even consistency.

4. Add the vanilla, sour cream and lemon juice. Blend 1-3 minutes. Add the eggs and egg yolks, 2 at a time. Blend each set of eggs in thoroughly.

5. Grease the sides of the spring form pan with the extra melted butter, being careful not to disturb the crust. Place the pan on a rimmed sheet pan. Pour in the filling. Tap sides to release any air bubbles.

6. Place the cake on the sheet pan into the 550 degree oven. Allow to cook for 10 minutes. Then, without opening the oven, turn down the heat to 200 degrees. Allow to cook for another 1 1/2 hrs, turning once.

7. Remove cake from the oven and from the sheet pan, placing it on a wire rack to cool. Immediately run a knife around the outside of the cake, separating it from the pan, and continue to do so once every hour until the cake has cooled to almost room temperature, about 2 1/2 to 3 hrs.

8. Cover and place in the refrigerator. Allow to cool for at least another 3 hrs before serving. 

When slicing, wet your knife in warm water between each slice. It will be beautiful and delicious. If you have a culinary inclined husband, have him concoct a strawberry sauce with freshly sliced strawberries, strawberry preserves, maple syrup, sugar, balsamic vinegar, sweet tea vodka and salt. I'll have him guest post the recipe one of these days, though if I know him, nary a measurement was involved.

Here's to Cheesecake and to Spring. May both linger on for a long time.

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